Private security boom times- courtesy of the taxpayer E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

One might think that with the billions upon billions of tax dollars spent over the last decade in order to “secure the homeland,” that suspicious devices are being taken very seriously and that sketchy foreign nationals are no longer training at flight schools. You know, like the 9/11 hijackers? Sadly that just doesn’t seem to be the case. A new report from the inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security rips the handling of an improvised explosive device found outside a federal building in Detroit in 2011.

According to a recent article in the Detroit News, the device was brought inside and went undetected as an explosive for three weeks.

The DHS inspector general issued a 37-page report says the package that contained explosives was stored under a desk near a security checkpoint at the Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building in Detroit.

Much like the Edward R. Murrah building, the McNamara building is home to many federal agencies, including the FBI.

The IG’s report also calls into question the training, hiring practices and oversight of security guards at the Detroit federal building.

The report indicates that three private security guards were fired, including the one who brought the bag inside, a fourth resigned before being fired while five other guards served suspensions ranging from one to five days.

On Feb. 26, 2011, a person placed a bag outside the McNamara Federal Building in Detroit. The bag contained an improvised explosive device, or IED.

The bag was left under a desk used to monitor closed-circuit video of the courthouse and elevators and simply forgotten for three weeks.

"Although the IED did not explode, it represented a serious risk to the safety and security of the building," the report found.

The report mentions several issues of concerns to how the guards screened the suspicious package.

"These attempts included visual inspections of the bag's interior, shaking and moving the metal safe inside the bag that contained the IED, and screening the bag with an X-ray machine. During these attempts, both guards and supervisors incorrectly identified the bag's contents as a gun safe, a safe, and (in the case of the X-ray screening) (blacked-out portion)."

The security contractor DECO fired the guard that brought the package in along with a supervisor who X-rayed and incorrectly identified the contents.

But as anyone that reads American Police Beat knows you generally get what you pay for when it comes to security.

The Federal Protective Service has apparently decided that the savings offered by private security contractors are worth the risk of having amateurs securing federal buildings.

The FPS is currently soliciting a new contract for guard services in Michigan. Since July 2011, the contract for Michigan guard services has been on three-month installments.

But sometimes even trained police officers can screw things up.

The security guard that actually brought the package into the building was a sergeant with the Detroit Police Department.

Guard services are one of the biggest expenses of the Federal Protective Service that oversees more than 9,000 federal facilities.

In 2011 alone, FPS spent $755.6 million on guard services. DECO is FPS's fourth largest contractor for guards, with seven contracts worth $61 million annually.

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Comments (1)Add Comment
written by Jeff Lucas, September 25, 2012
I disagree with many comments that generalize security guards. I am a former police officer of 17 yrs and now run my own security company. Guards are a great asset to the community. The break down and issue among the perception of guards, is the lack of training and pay. When you pay $8 per hr, you will get $8 per hr worth of work. When a security company trains its people, invest in outside training, and pays a higher rate to get a better service. Guards out number officers on average 4 to 1. The public and the law enforcement community should embrace the security guard world. I have been looked down on by other police officers I run into, unitl they find out I am retired police sergeant, then the respect level seems to rise. The security guards are a great investment, if they are trained and paid right. Dont look down on guards, they still have a hard job, with even less pay than officers.

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